Family Stories

Col. Thomas Johnson – Montgomery County

Johnson Gravestone, Machpelah Cemetery, Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

Col. Thomas Johnson loomed large in Montgomery County.  He lived there from early childhood, worked hard at farming in his early years until the Civil War.  Col. Johnson raised a regiment in Mt. Sterling in support of the South.  Older than most soldiers by 10 or 20 years, he served the entire four years.  After the war he married Elizabeth Peters, a woman 33 years his junior.  Evidently it was a happy marriage.  The couple had six children, all whom lived into the mid 1900’s.  They were Albert Sidney, Anna B., Sarah Peters, Patty Calk, Mary Hunter and Susette Johnson.  In his later years the Colonel loved going to Civil War reunions, for both North and South, some as far away as Louisville and Atlanta.  The following newspaper articles and obituary were all found in The Courier Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Col. Thomas Johnson, July 4, 1812 – April 7, 1906.

A marker in Machpelah Cemetery, in Mount Sterling, is dedicated to Col. Thomas Johnson, who lived to the age of 93, and his youngest brother, Capt. Ignatius Masterson Johnson, who died shortly after the war at age 45.

Capt. I. M. Johnson, born October 12, 1824, died March 9, 1869.

Sunday, July 5, 1903

Col. Thomas Johnson is Ninety-One

Col. Thomas Johnson, of Civil War fame, celebrated his ninety-first birthday this evening.  Soldiers of both North and South were present, and a speech made by Maj. A. T. Wood presenting a fine, gold-headed cane.  Burgoo was served.  Col. Johnson is in fine health.

Wednesday, June 14, 1905

Col. Thomas Johnson, of Mt. Sterling, Ky., claims the distinction of being the oldest living Confederate veteran in the State of Kentucky.  He is also proud of the fact that he is one of the very few living members of the Confederate Congress.

Col. Johnson is now ninety-three years of age.  He was born near Somerset Creek on a day of National importance, the date of his birth being July 4, 1812.  At the beginning of the Civil War he was living on a farm near the place of his birth.  He raised and equipped a company at his own expense in Montgomery County, his command being assigned to the Second regiment of Kentucky Mounted Rifleman.  He became Colonel of the regiment, commanding it until the surrender at Appomattox.  Col. Johnson surrendered his command to Col. Trew at Mt. Sterling, the place where he entered service.

The regimental flag carried by the Second Kentucky, is still in the possession of Col. Johnson.  It is a beautiful silken emblem of the lost cause, and is still in a good state of preservation, save for the rents and scars made by bullets in battle.

At the age of sixty Col. Johnson was married to Miss Elizabeth Peters and this union was blessed by six children, one son and five daughters.  One of his daughters, Miss Anna, who is among the most beautiful of Kentucky women, is one of the maids of honor to Miss Carrie Peyton Wheeler, sponsor for the South.  Col. and Mrs. Johnson, as well as their daughter, will be visitors to Louisville during the reunion.

Sunday, April 8, 1906

Mt. Sterling, Ky., April 7 – [Special] – Col. Thomas Johnson died at 10:45 o’clock tonight of general debility.  He had been ill for the last ten days, and became unconscious this morning, remaining in that condition until the end.  He was ninety-three years old, a noted Confederate soldier and a member of the Confederate Congress.  He leaves a large estate.

Col. Johnson was born July 4, 1812, and his career has been a most remarkable one.  Notwithstanding his great age, his mental faculties were unimpaired, and he took a lively interest in passing events.

His father, Jacob Johnson, was a native of Maryland, and he was brought to Kentucky by his mother after the death of his father, and grew up in this state.  After attaining his majority Thomas began trading in stock, in addition to farming and was so successful that in a few years he was able to purchase a farm for himself near the family household.  In later years he purchased the homestead tract also, and at the time of his death owned about 1,000 acres of land on the Maysville turnpike, near Mt. Sterling.  He owned considerable cotton land in the South, besides numerous other holdings, all made by his own energy and excellent business ability.

In early manhood Col. Johnson took considerable interest in martial affaires and for a time was captain of the State militia and rose from this position to the rank of major general.  In 1844 he was one of the two men selected to represent Kentucky in the Provisional Confederate Congress.

He was granted a commission of Colonel and served with distinction throughout the war, being a portion of the time with Morgan in Kentucky.  When that General made his raid in Mt. Sterling, Col. Johnson’s horse was killed under him, and he suffered many narrow escapes and hardships.  After the surrender of Lee, Col. Johnson returned to his home and again devoted his attention to stock raising, and had ever since been one of the most loyal supporters of a reunited country.

In 1876-77 he represented his district, composed of the counties of Montgomery, Wolfe, Powell and Menifee, in the lower house of the State Legislature, having been elected by the Democratic party, of which he was a leading spirit.  In 1878-82 he was again called into the political arena and served the district composed of Montgomery, Bourbon and Clark, in the State Senate, serving his constituents on both occasions with ability and credit to his state.  He then declined further political honors and came home and assumed active management of his large plantation.

He assisted in building the first turnpike that was ever built in Montgomery County, and gave the right of way for it through his own farm; he gave freely of his money to build it and for a long time was one of its directors.

He voted for every tax to build turnpikes in this county, and had lived to see every road leading to the county seat, he has voted for every school tax and every school that has been to the county of Montgomery has been partially supported with taxes paid by him, he being one of the largest taxpayers.  Every church that has been built in Mt. Sterling during his lifetime has his name on its subscription list.

In 1867 he joined the Somerset Christian Church.  In 1871 he married Miss Elizabeth Peters, daughter of Mr. A. G. Peters.  Six children were born, all of whom are living:  Albert Sidney, Mrs. Pattie Riley, Mrs. J. M. Hoffman, Misses Anna and Susette, of his city, and Mrs. J. M. Hatton, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

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